U.S. Senate approves Keystone pipeline despite veto threat _lowres

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate is moving toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The move defies a veto threat and sets up the first battle with the White House over energy and the environment.

The Senate plans to vote later Thursday. It’s the first measure taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate, and one of the first to draw a veto threat from the president.

The bill has 60 sponsors — enough to pass, but not enough to override a veto.

The bill would authorize construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil primarily from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Critics argue the $8 billion project would spell disaster for global warming. Supporters call it a jobs bill that would boost energy security.